Hedge Your Bets Meaning
Definition: Choose or support more than one option at a time in an effort to reduce the chance of losing.
Origin of Hedge Your Bets
The word hedge means to avoid making a definitive commitment. It comes from the noun hedge, which means a fence made of shrubbery. The hedge that forms a fence offers protection and security, much like hedging a bet.
Hedge your bets first appeared in the late-1600s. The first use was by George Villiers, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, in his play The Rehearsal (1672):
- Now, Criticks, do your worst, that here are met; For, like a Rook, I have hedg’d in my Bet.
Before the coinage of hedge your bets, hedge was used in conjunction with other words to form phrases. But, the late-1600s was the first time it was used as hedge a bet.
Examples of Hedge Your Bets
In the following example, a new mother is discussing childcare with her friend.
Kerry: So, did you decide which daycare to use for your child?
Christine: I decided to use one in the next town away from where I live. My city didn’t have any good ones.
Kerry: Which one did you choose?
Christine: Well, I wanted to hedge my bets, so I picked the top 10 daycares. I’m going to apply to all of them. Hopefully she’ll get into at least one.
Kerry: Wow! Didn’t it take a long time to fill out all that paperwork?
Christine: Yes, it took an extremely long time, but it’s worth it to increase the chances of finding the best place.
In this dialogue, two friends are eating at a restaurant.
Arlena: What do you plan on ordering to eat?
Nyima: I’m going to order the chicken vindaloo and the palak paneer.
Arlena: You’re ordering two entrees? Are you really hungry?
Nyima: No, not at all. But I’m not sure if I’ll like them, so I thought I’d hedge my bets by ordering two things. If I don’t like one of them, I’ll eat the other one. I’ll give the extra to my husband. He likes everything.
This excerpt is from an advice column. The columnist advises a man to choose someone he really feels passionate about, not someone he feels like he is settling for.
- Make a decision about your long-term relationship. Don’t hedge your bets; be a grown-up and make a choice. –Denver Post
This excerpt is from an article about how to get into a good school. The author advises not choosing only the most competitive schools. Those are very hard to get into, and will likely not work out. Rather, pick a range of possible schools.
- Hedge your bets by finding other suitable schools. Consider special honors programs within big schools — oases of excellence that give kids a greater sense of belonging. Each selective program requires a separate listing on the high-school application. –New York Post
The phrase hedge your bets means to reduce the risk of making the wrong choice by choosing multiple options.